Cantigny Golf Course Review, Wheaton, Illinois

Cantigny Golf Course Review, Wheaton, Illinois

by danperry on August 5, 2008

in Golf Course Reviews

Cantigny Golf is a 27 hole facility in Wheaton, Illinois. It’s hosted a number of prestigious events, most recently the 2007 U.S. Amateur Public Links.

As you drive the long driveway to the clubhouse, you’ll notice the flowers on this facility are abundant. You’ll see them on both sides of the drive, and regardless of which month you play here, something will be in season. It’s really impressive.

As you approach the clubhouse, and drop your clubs at the bag-drop, you also may notice some young people walking around with caddy bibs on. Cantigny is known for their youth caddy program, and I strongly encourage you to utilize them when possible. It really is a great program.

Cantigny Golf Course, Wheaton, Illinois

There are three distinct nines here; Woodside, Lakeside and Hillside. If you’re only playing 18 holes, I’d suggest the Woodside and Lakeside. The Hillside has enough challenges of its own, but the Woodside-Lakeside combo just can’t be beat.

Starting with the Woodside nine, the first three holes are probably three of the toughest holes of the entire complex. If you walk away from here at par or only 1 or 2 over, you’ve accomplished something. The first hole requires a well-struck tee shot (no “practice” holes here), that must either carry the bunkers on the right, or be placed correctly down the left, but not placed too far, as to enter the sand. My suggestion is to skip carrying the bunkers on the right, and play it safe to the left, leaving 150 or so to the green.

Cantigny Golf Course, Wheaton, Illinois

The second is a 521 yard par 5, but don’t even think of going for it in two. Remember, a par here feels like a birdie, and a bogey feels like a par. Plan on hitting three shots. The first just needs to land on or near the fairway, and on the second, plan on viewing the landing area. There are a lot of bumps in the fairway (to raise the slope, I’m guessing), so distance matters on your lay-up shot. The green looks a little hidden, even from 120 yards. Be precise with your approach. Here’s a view from the green looking back.

Cantigny Golf Course, Wheaton, Illinois

The third is a 200+ yard par three, and the pin is barely viewable from the tee. See, I told you this 9 starts out tough! There is trouble all over the place here, so be as precise as you can. Long, short, left and right are all bad (believe it or not). There is a little bail short and left, but not much.

Cantigny Golf Course, Wheaton, Illinois

The fifth is a par 4 with a lot of water on the right, and from the tee, it’s difficult to see just how far it juts out in the fairway. Look for the red stakes when standing on the tee, but trust me; better left than right. Plus, it should leave you a decent approach, regardless of pin position. Here’s a shot from behind the green looking back; note how far out the water is.

Cantigny Golf Course, Wheaton, Illinois

The seventh on the Woodside nine is a par 5 that is probably not reachable to most (522, with an uphill tee shot). The tip for this hole is to hug the left side, because the green is tucked away behind a lot of trees on the right. If you want any chance of hitting this green in regulation, be on the left hand side (unless you have a monster cut shot that you can play at will.) Here’s the view from the left side of the fairway.

Cantigny Golf Course, Wheaton, Illinois

The eighth is an all-carry par 3, to a double green. The shot is above average, but the view is pretty impressive in itself. To the right of the tee, you’ll see the “fox hunt” taking place, with a horse and rider on one island, and a fox on another. I thought this was pretty neat, and an interesting addition to the course. If you look at the picture in large size, they are easier to see.

Cantigny Golf Course, Wheaton, Illinois

All three nines finish at the clubhouse, and as you drive underneath it, you’ll find a fully-stocked (and fully-staffed) snack bar, with restrooms right inside the door. Very nice touch.

Cantigny Golf Course, Wheaton, Illinois

The Lakeside nine begins with a reasonable par 4 (388 yards), with a downhill tee shot, and uphill approach. As mentioned earlier, there are flowers galore here, and the butterfly pattern to the left of this green is something to behold.

Cantigny Golf Course, Wheaton, Illinois

The second hole is one of my favorite par 5’s on the course. The fairway is pretty thin throughout the entire hole, making accuracy important on every shot. If all goes well, your third is uphill to the green, and the flag may be viewable. The green has some serious undulation (think elephant burial ground), so be sure you’re on the correct level. If you’re on in three you know you played the hole very well. Here’s a view of the second shot.

Cantigny Golf Course, Wheaton, Illinois

The fourth is a wonderful, 176 yard par three, with trouble everywhere (seems to be a running theme for the par 3’s.) Short left is wet, and right is in the sand. Also, the rough surrounding the green was longer than I would’ve expected, so chipping on is tougher than usual. Long is OK, but lots of trouble coming back. The green is large, so you should be able to land it, and test your putting skills.

Cantigny Golf Course, Wheaton, Illinois

The ninth is one of the tougher par 4’s on the course, with the tee shot being exceptionally tough. There is no real “fat” part of the fairway here, so be careful. One of the claim to fame’s of Cantigny is the Dick Tracy bunker, located here. I took a close-up of the tee sign to make it clear. When you’re standing over it, you can see the outline, and an overhead view is wonderful. Look through the clubhouse, and you’ll see it numerous times.

Dick Tracy bunker at Cantigny

Here’s a shot of the clubhouse from the ninth green. Be sure to save some time for a sandwich and a drink after your round. The view overlooking the course is wonderful, and the BBQ sandwich is just sweet enough, without being too sweet. Delicious.

Cantigny Golf Course, Wheaton, Illinois

The Hillside nine starts with a par 4 where the green isn’t viewable from the tee. It’s to the right, so if you play a fade, aim for the right edge of the bunkers on the left side and let it fly.

Cantigny Golf, Hillside 9, Wheaton, Illinois

The third is a 358 yard par 4, with some significant bunkering bordering the fairway and green. I’d suggest not hitting driver, and going for accuracy instead of distance. Favor the left side, leaving yourself 130-140 for your approach. If on the left side, you should be able to go for the pin, regardless of position. I’d still suggest the center of the green, only because the greens are deep, steep, and plentiful. Take a look.

Cantigny Golf, Hillside 9, Wheaton, Illinois

The sixth has (what seems to be) the fattest fairway on the course, so let it rip. Your approach will be slightly uphill, to the double green mentioned previously (the fox hunt will be on your left this time instead of your right.) Water surrounds this green, but it’s wide enough that it shouldn’t come into play. The green is very deep, so make sure your club selection is correct; otherwise you could leave yourself a very, very long putt.

Cantigny Golf, Hillside 9, Wheaton, Illinois

The seventh is a long par 5, with a raised fairway up the right side. It’s kind of hard to explain, but suffice it to say that if you have the option, be up the right side rather than the left. The lies are better, and it makes the green a little more approachable. In this pic, you can barely see a playing partner of mine on the right side, on the “top shelf” portion of the fairway.

Cantigny Golf, Hillside 9, Wheaton, Illinois

The tee shot on nine is critical; do not hit it to far or you’re wet. It’s a dogleg left, so feel free to hug the trees on the left side. I’ve hit a 4-hybrid from the Blue tees and just missed being wet, so trust me; a little less is better than a little more here. Once around the corner, the green is very approachable, with a bunker on the right. With a properly placed tee shot, this is a potential birdie hole, so be prepared for it.

Cantigny Golf, Hillside 9, Wheaton, Illinois

If you have only have one opportunity to play 18 holes of golf at Cantigny, play the Woodside – Lakeside combination. It’s the set that they played the 2007 U.S. Amateur Public Links on, and provides not only the most challenging holes, but the most scenic as well. The Hillside nine is no slouch, so if you can’t book the Woodside – Lakeside, don’t be disappointed. I can’t imagine someone playing here and not being impressed, not only with the golf, service and pace of play, but also the scenery. I’ve played here 5-6 times, and have always enjoyed myself, even when the scores were high. I’m sure you will too.

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